A Better Look Inside: New Ultrasound Technology Helps People Avoid Exploratory GI Surgery

As part of Gwinnett Medical Center’s commitment to provide patients with state-of-the-art care, the hospital system is now using the Olympus EUS EXERA to perform endoscopic ultrasound examinations for the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of gastrointestinal ailments. If you suffer with symptoms of a digestive internal organ disorder, you may benefit from an endoscopic ultrasound examination. Learn more about this innovative treatment option.

As the name implies, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines ultrasound technology with endoscopy, the practice of passing a tubelike instrument with a camera on the end through a body opening or a small incision in the skin. This allows for better visualization of the tissues of the digestive tract and adjacent anatomical structures inside the human body. This internal vantage point provides more detailed pictures of the GI tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon, as well as surrounding tissues and organs.

The procedure is performed using either a probe, which is passed through the channel of a standard endoscope, or with an echoendoscope, a special endoscope with the ultrasound transducer on its tip. With the transducer positioned in close proximity to the target tissue, EUS imagery better defines the layers of the GI wall as well as surrounding tissue and organs. EUS has two primary advantages over conventional ultrasound and endoscopy:

  • A conventional ultrasound is performed by placing a transducer against the skin to produce images of internal organs. With EUS, the transducer is endoscopically inserted into the body via the digestive tract, putting the transducer closer to the area of interest to obtain higher resolution imagery.
  • EUS allows physicians to see internal organs without making an incision. In conventional endoscopy, the gastroenterologist can only view the innermost lining of the digestive tract, or its wall. 
The addition of ultrasound allows the endoscopist to see beyond that wall to visualize all five layers of the GI tract as well as surrounding tissue and organs. EUS works by transmitting high-frequency sound waves that are bounced off the body’s internal tissues; the echoes are then converted into a computerized picture called a sonogram.

From a clinical perspective, this means that an abnormality below the surface of the digestive tract wall—such as a growth that was detected at a prior endoscopy or under X-ray, or a suspicious mass on an internal organ—can be further evaluated under EUS, 
helping doctors better understand its nature and prescribe the best treatment option. It also allows doctors to process and examine biopsy samples as they are obtained, which aids in accurate diagnosis and helps eliminate the need for invasive surgery for diagnosing tumors—instead, surgery is now done only for removal of definitively diagnosed tumors.

“Gwinnett Medical Center is committed to providing the best to patients,” says Srinivasa Ayinala, MD, “so we are proud to introduce this latest technology and innovation for less invasive and more reliable diagnosis of gastrointestinal and liver cancers.”

Is This Exam Right for You?
If you suffer with symptoms of a digestive internal organ disorder, you may benefit from an endoscopic ultrasound examination. For a physician referral to a board-certified gastroenterologist, call 678-312-5000.


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